Freshman Series: Defensive Guide

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This guide will serve as a introduction to the defensive mechanics present in Street Fighter V. This is part 3 of a 5-part series. The first two tutorials, cover basic Street Fighter execution and offensive strategies, respectively. If you’re new to playing Street Fighter and haven’t read those, I highly recommend you do so before reading this guide, as each guide does tend to build off of each other.

In Street Fighter V, offensive power is stronger than the defensive options for most characters. Anyone can mount a powerful offense, but what separates good players from great players is their defensive prowess. This guide will introduce you to all of Street Fighter V’s defensive tools to take you to the next level.

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If you get knocked down, and can learn to hold down-back to block when you wake up, instead of pressing buttons, you can instantly consider yourself to be a player with at least 1000 LP online. Street fighter is fun when you get to have a turn and get to press buttons and beat your opponent up, but there will be some times, where you have to be patient, and just sit back and block. As a beginner, most of the solutions to your problems early on will be “Oh, I should have not pressed buttons and just blocked there.”

The first lesson about defense is to recognize when you should be defending. When you get hit and are standing up, or as it’s more commonly called, “recovering”, you are in a disadvantageous position. For the sake of your points, please BLOCK!

Practice Exercises

Set your character to Zangief and set the dummy to Ryu. Use action recording for Ryu doing his HP Hadouken [qcf.HP], and immediately stop the recording. Reset the position to middle, and move back as far as possible with Zangief. Set the dummy to playback. Try to walk forward and block the fireballs until you can grab Ryu with a normal throw. If you get hit, restart. Keep a timer handy to check how quickly you can do it.

Success Lv. 1 = Reach Ryu in: 50 seconds
Success Lv. 2 = Reach Ryu in: 40 seconds
Success Lv. 3 = Reach Ryu in: 35 seconds

Highs and Lows

There are 2 Kinds of blocking: Crouch blocking [blocking low] and stand blocking [stand blocking]

Crouch Blocking

To crouch block, hold down-back [“back” in this case refers to the direction away from your opponent.] You will be able to block almost every grounded attack with a crouch block. It’s important not to press buttons when you are blocking. It should also be noted, that crouch blocking will lose to jumping attacks.

Stand Blocking

Stand blocking is performed by holding only back. Normally you would walk back, but when your opponent does an attack, it will cause you to stand and block. This is useful to guard against jumping attacks and some special grounded attacks. Stand blocking will lose to crouching kick attacks.

Practice Exercises

Choose any character for yourself and set the opponent to Necalli. On action recording 1, record Necalli doing the following: c.MP, c.MK, f.dash. On recording 2, record Necalli doing c.MP, df.HP, f.dash [Don’t worry, these don’t need to combo] Turn on the playback for recording 1 and 2 and try to block as many times as possible in a row.

Success Lv. 1 = 5 Successful blocks in a row.
Success Lv. 2 = 10 Successful blocks in a row.
Success Lv. 3 = 15 Successful blocks in a row.

Before I mentioned not to press buttons when you’re blocking. SFV has a special mechanic to make combos easier, so if you press a button even before it’s possible that the attack can come out, the game will still initiate the attack as soon as possible. This input buffering system is mainly to make doing combos easier, but if you’re pressing buttons when blocking an opponents attack, there is a possibility that your attack will come out after you press it.


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Cross-ups hit you in such a way, that the opponent is technically behind you when they hit. When blocking this, you need to actually hold toward the direction that your opponent started from. Please see the following graphic below regarding cross-ups. Please assume that the jump before the jump attack started from the left side.

Cross-Up Graphic

Practice Exercises

Choose any character for yourself, and choose Nash as the opponent. Set recording 1 for Nash to do the following: f.dash, qcb.LK, [small step forward] j.MK. Set recording 2 to do the same thing except with a slightly longer step forward. Turn on playback for recording 1 and 2 and see if you can block the cross-ups and the normal jumps.

Success Lv. 1 = 3 times blocked in a row.
Success Lv. 2 = 7 times blocked in a row.
Success Lv. 3 = 10 times blocked in row.

If you’re not sure if an attack was a cross-up or not, don’t fret. The game actually has a built in visual aid that says “cross-up” if it’s visually difficult to tell which side a jumping attack hit you on. It will appear in orange letters on the screen if you did get hit with a cross-up. So if you got hit and you didn’t see cross-up visual, the attack wasn’t a cross-up.


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All blocking loses to throws. If you remember from the offensive guide, there are 2 kinds of throw. Normal throw and command throws. You must defend against them in different ways.

For normal throws, you have 3 options to evade. You can jump back. When you jump, you are invincible to throws. You can back dash. Back dash is invincible to normal throws, but if you are hit during the beginning of a back dash, it will be considered counter hit. The final defense is to press throw [LP+LK] at the same time your opponent does. This will nullify their throw and push you away from them. This is commonly referred to as a throw-tech.

Command throws, are incredibly similar except that not every character has them and you cannot throw-tech, and you must either jump or back dash away. There are a few command throws however that will only hit enemies in the air. If you encounter one of these moves, note that they cannot grab you with the same attack if you stay on the ground.

Practice Exercises

Set the dummy to Birdie. Record the dummy doing f.dash,f.dash, s.LK, step forward, LP+LK. Set the playback and try to tech the throw. Pay attention to how late you can actually tech.

Success Lv. 1 = 1 time teched
Success Lv. 2  = 5 times teched
Success Lv. 3 = 10 times teched

Set the dummy to Cammy. Record the dummy doing f.dash, f.dash, s.LK, LK+LP. Set dummy to playback and try to tech the throw. Pay attention to how late you can actually tech.

Success Lv. 1 = 1 time teched
Success Lv. 2 = 5 times teched
Success Lv. 3 = 10 times teched

Set the dummy to R.Mika. Record the dummy doing f.dash, c.LK, hcb.LP [PLEASE NOTE YOU SHOULD NOT CANCEL c.LK into hcb.LP]. Set the playback and block the c.LK and try to get to away from the command throw.

Success Lv. 1 = 3 times escape throw
Success Lv. 2 = 5 times escape throw
Success Lv. 3 = 7 times escape throw

Most attacks don’t leave an opponent in range for a throw, so after the attack they usually have to walk forward before they hit you. In this case, holding back and walking back will make their throw attack whiff entirely. Just be careful they don’t hit you with a low kick attack!

Cammy’s Hooligan Combination is a rare exception to all of the rules stated above. It is a special attack that can grab opponents on the ground or in the air. It is the only move in the game that has this property. To properly defend against it, all you need to do is crouch. It will only throw you if you are in the air or standing up on the ground. It is not able to grab crouching.


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There will be times where you want to end your opponent’s offense immediately or prevent them from continuing pressure against you. V-reversal serves this purpose. For one gauge  of your V-trigger bar, you can initiate a V-reversal. The properties of V-reversal differs from character to character. Some characters do an attack, some characters just move away. The input for V-Reversal will be either forward and three punches or forward and three kicks only while you’re blocking. If you are not blocking will you will do a normal attack.

This works best to immediately end an opponents offense and reset the position. A great opportunity to use it is when you are low on health and your opponent has offensive momentum. It should be noted that yes, V-reversals provide an option to escape pressure, but they all have a weakness. For example, most can be thrown.

Thought Exercises

In training mode, set the guard recovery recording and record yourself doing the character’s v-reversal. Find the following information.

Success Lv. 1 = Find 6 V-reversals that are hits.
Success Lv. 2 = Find 4 V-reversals that knock the opponent down.
Success Lv. 3 = Find 4 V-reversals that are not hits.

Smarter players will jab to bait out your V-reversal, and then follow up by immediately throwing. For this reason, it’s best not to do a V-reversal when an opponent is doing light punch or light kicks of any kind. It’s best to V-reversal during an attack that has a long animation or one that is multiple hits, so that the opponent cannot do anything about it.


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Each character has moves that will knock you flat on your back. When you get knocked down in Street Fighter, it’s important to realize that you still have defensive options available to you. Many smart players will find ways to immediately continue offense as soon as you recover from a knockdown, however, in SFV when you are knocked down, you have different recovery’s that you can choose from. When getting knocked down, you can either press three punches [or tap down on the control stick] to wake up immediately from where you were knocked down. This is known as “Quick Recovery.” Pressing three kick buttons [or tapping back on the control stick] to wake up will cause your character to move backward and wake up in a different position, but more importantly at a different timing. This is known as “Back Recovery.” Finally, if you don’t press anything your character will wait a long time until they recover. This is called “no recovery”

These options will allow you to  escape pressure situations that you would otherwise have to deal with immediately upon recovering. The best advice to give beginners is that when you’re not feeling very confident about your defense while recovering, do back recovery. Most characters have a harder time dealing with this recovery option. In a nutshell, if you’re getting beat up while you’re trying to get off the ground, try a different wake-up.

Practice Exercises

For yourself choose any character you like. set the training mode dummy to Cammy and try to use either back or quick recovery to escape the pressure situations.

Success Lv. 1 = Record Cammy doing s.HP xx qcf.HK, dash foward, Then set the computer to playback and get hit by this set-up. Try to find a way so that you don’t get hit when you’re recovering.

Success Lv. 2 = Record Cammy doing s.HP xx qcf.MK, dash, LP+LK. Get hit by this set-up. Choose between quick or back recovery so that you don’t get thrown.

Success Lv. 3 = Set your character to Ryu. Keep the dummy as Cammy.  Record Cammy doing s.HP xx qcf.HK, dash, s.MK. Set the computer to playback and get hit by this set-up. Do either quick or back recovery and try to jab when you recover to escape the situation. Which recovery worked?

There are usually 3 ways to recovery from most attacks, however from throws, you do not have the option of back recovery. You can only quick recover or no recover from a throw or command throw. Finally, in situations where you are hit with a counter-hit c.HK from any character, you can only no recover. This situation is quite rare, however, it allows the person on offense a guaranteed timing to continue their pressure. Know your options!


If you’d like to keep a copy of this note for your personal collection, you can download the Evernote version below, which comes equipped with check-boxes on the challenges so you can easily remember where you left off.

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If you don’t have Evernote, and you’re serious about learning fighting games,  I wholeheartedly recommend you get it to make notes for match-ups, combos, set-ups, etc. It’s an incredibly handy tool to have on your computer, your phone, or tablet. If you’re feeling kind, when you sign up for Evernote, please use the referral link below. It helps me get more storage so I can make more of these guides and distribute them to the public without paying for Evernote’s fees. By referring me, you will also get a free month of Evernote Premium. Talk about a win-win!

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